Although the Spiders were 8-3 at home before this weekend, they won only one out of three games in their first conference series against the Saint Joseph’s Hawks at Pitt Field this weekend. All three games were closely contested and low-scoring.
The Hawks were carried by their offense in the first game of the series, where two home runs gave them four of their seven total runs. Richmond scored only three runs and began the series with its first conference loss.
The Spiders were held scoreless until the fourth after Saint Joseph's gained the lead with three runs in the third. First baseman Doug Kraeger then drove in Michael Morman on a single to cut the Hawks' lead to two.
Saint Joseph’s immediately returned fire in the fifth with a pair of home runs, combining to give the Hawks a six-run lead. The Spiders held the Hawks to only two hits and no runs for the remainder of the game, but it was too late. Despite a late ninth inning rally, Richmond lost 7-3.
In the second game of the series, Richmond starting pitcher Zach Grossfeld threw for more than five innings and gave up only two runs. Reliever Layne Looney and closer Caleb Ward gave up only one hit and no runs for the remaining four innings.
Offensively, Richmond struck first in the opening inning with a double from Morman that scored shortstop Tyler Beckwith. Supported by two more runs in the fourth and another in the seventh, the Spiders maintained a lead for the rest of the game.
Beckwith had four hits and scored on three of them. Morman had two hits, both of which allowed runners to score. Grossfeld threw a career high five strikeouts in just over five innings.
In the final game of the series, Kurtis Brown, Jansen Fraser, and Morman all hit doubles, which combined with two singles from Beckwith and Kraeger to give the Spiders a quick four-run lead. Saint Joseph’s replied in the second and third innings with three total runs. The Hawks then scored two more in the fifth to take the lead 5-4.
Saint Joseph’s runs went unanswered until the seventh inning when Morman scored from third on a balk by the Saint Joseph’s pitcher. Unhappy with the call, the Hawks' head coach adamantly argued with the umpires for upwards of ten minutes, but was ultimately unsuccessful.
The tie game that resulted from Kraeger’s run lasted until Saint Joseph’s catcher, Deon Stafford III, belted a homer and gave the Hawks a 6-5 lead. Kraeger nearly hit a home run of his own in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game, but it fell just short of the wall and allowed Saint Joseph's to hold on to the score and win.
Pitching depth – is it an issue or not?
Despite telling the Collegian early this season that depth in pitching would be a persistent issue, Richmond coach Tracy Woodson said he didn’t believe that the final loss could be attributed to that.
“Everything was fine today," Woodson said. "One kid hit three home runs, that beat us.”
Dan Martinson was on the mound for the Spiders to begin the game and lasted five innings until he was relieved by Daniel Brumbaugh. Ward threw in the second game of the series when called on to close for Brumbaugh, but was pulled after letting up the go ahead home run. Jacob Lamb, who also took the mound to close in the first game of the series, finished the game.
“That’s a good team. I don’t even know where they were picked for our conference, but that team has a chance to win our league,” Woodson said of St. Joseph's. “Overall on the weekend, Thursday I don’t think we played well, but the last few days I thought we played well.”
Richmond will face James Madison at home on Tuesday before beginning its second conference series in New York City against Fordham.
Contact sports writer Colby Wilcox at email@example.com